James Webb There is No Place Called Home (Hökarängen), 2021
Children's laughter from the playground, music from an open window. There are many sounds that embed and make it difficult to detect the birdsong from a selected tree in Hökarängen. We all have different memories and associations of birdsong, many of us find it soothing but bird vocalizations are generally used to mark territory and attract mates, and the incongruent audio is mixed so as to appear as “real” and “lifelike” as possible in the environment.
The attentive or bird-interested person who walks in the summer sun may notice and react when they hear birdsong that does not belong in Hökarängen. There's No Place Called Home (Hökarängen) 2021 is an ongoing art project started in 2004 by the South African artist James Webb. Webb introduces the singing of specific birds via hidden speakers in the public space, a song that blends in and becomes part of a local park or forest area far beyond the bird's home. In a subtle way, the work raises questions about migration, borders, man's relationship to animals and not least about what home and origin really mean. This work keys into the symbol of the bird – the animal at which we direct ideas of freedom, transience, migration and cultural currency.
James Webb describes his work as “It is a call to wonderers, strangers and outsiders – to those who have gotten lost. There’s No Place Called Home generates meaning out of displacement, using foreign elements to illuminate the social, cultural and political interactions endemic to the installation site. Like a metaphorical ‘cuckoo’s egg’, the birdcalls are disguised as a part of the natural environment, concealing a level of meaning from all but those in the know.”
During the autumn, James Webb will create two new works in Hökarängen within Songs to Hökarängen, a new series of performative works created by experiences, unfulfilled stories, subjective dreams and societal visions with Hökarängen's history and environment as the soundtrack.
James Webb is a conceptual artist known for his site-specific interventions and installations. His practice often involves sound, found objects, and text, invoking references to literature, cinema, and minimalist traditions. Webb’s projects circulate around a complex mixture of emotional and affective states—of longing and despair, of ecstasy and of hopefulness, states of bodies and minds that move throughout his practice to raise questions of individuality and community, belonging and displacement, fragmentation and recuperation. By shifting objects, techniques, and forms beyond their original contexts and introducing them to different environments, Webb creates new spaces of tension. These spaces link together Webb’s academic background in religion, theatre, and advertising, offering poetic inquiries into the economies of belief and dynamics of communication in our contemporary world.
We will tell you which tree in Hökarängen the bird sings from during James Webb's artist talk on Saturday 14 August at 14:00. In addition, you are welcome to email us a picture if you think you have found the tree or tag us on instagram if you post a picture.
Courtesy the artist, Konsthall C, blank projects, and Galerie Imane Farès
[There’s No Place Called Home (Hökarängen) contains audio recordings of Marsh Wren birds made by Jeff Dyck, Paul Marvin, Richard E. Webster, and Russ Wigh used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence. The recordings have been edited so as to isolate the bird’s songs and calls from the background sound, and time has been inserted between the edits to lengthen the tracks.]